Hilary's Reviews > Me Talk Pretty One Day

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
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F_50x66
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Apr 09, 08

Read in January, 2008

so i wrote a book review on this book for a class assignment (haha-i'm not that nerdy that i write lengthy book reviews in my spare time)
David Sedaris is bringing back the funny with his new novel, Me Talk Pretty One Day. His sidesplitting humor stems from his North Carolina upbringing and his colorful parents, siblings, and friends. This work is a collection of autobiographical essays that seem too obscure to come from a true account of his life, but I guess Sedaris is just that weird. His cynicism and communication problems are the constant threads that help keep the collection afloat.
The book is broken into two sections, one and deux. Both sections made me embarrassed to read the book in public, because I frequently laughed out loud. Part one starts in a somewhat chronological order reliving his elementary school days and speech impediments. His father, Lou Sedaris is the star character. If this were a film, he would win the Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor.” His desire for all of his children to be musical prodigies led him to sign Sedaris up for guitar lessons from the local ‘midget’ guitarist. Sedaris said, “Although I had regularly petitioned for a brand-name vacuum cleaner, I’d never said anything about wanting a guitar”. His one-liners made me keel over.
He also mentions his mother’s antics, such as reviving a dying puppy by placing it in a casserole dish and popping it in the oven (on low heat, of course). Paul, his brother liked to call himself the “rooster” when he felt threatened. Sometimes the only decipherable words in his common slue of profanity were, “You can’t kill the rooster”. His sister, Amy, fooled their father for Christmas one year by wearing a fat suit for days. He whispered about her weight gain to Sedaris and asked her to go on a ten-mile run with him. He was practically in tears when she confessed.
One of my favorite chapters, Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist details his attempt at visual art from tracing comic book characters to live performances at the local art museum, where he is upstaged by his father’s comments from the audience. David is open about his drug use and homosexuality, which made for interesting anecdotes about the riffraff he hung around.
Take Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society and multiply his eccentric style of teaching by one hundred, and you get Sedaris as a college professor. Having no training as a teacher, Sedaris takes on a teaching position. On the first day of class, he showed up with nametags shaped like maple leaves and the daily schedule from then on consisted of Celebrity Corner, Feedbag Forum, and Pillow Talk.
His self-deprecating humor and delivery continue in part deux when he moves to France with his lover. One memorable incident occurs when they are on the subway, and two American tourists assume Sedaris is French so they speak in English about him. They comment on his smell and cling to their belongings in fear that he is a pick-pocketer. Sedaris plots to steal his boyfriend’s wallet out of his back pocket, while they are getting off the train and have the American couple call the police. Sedaris planned to say, “What’s the problem? Is it against the law to borrow money from my boyfriend?” Unfortunately, before he can carry out his plot, the couple gets off the train.
While living in Paris, he tries to combat his inability to speak the language by taking a French class. In Jesus Shaves, he tells of the eclectic mix of translation difficulties. For instance, his classmates try to explain the concept of Easter to a Moroccan student with explanations that translated as, “He weared of himself the long hair and after he die, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples.”
This is a book you will not put down, unless it falls, because you are laughing so hard. Sedaris leaves us wanting more. I have a feeling this is not the last of Sedaris, because he will never run out of material to write about as long as his family is still alive. His caustic cynicism and wit will continue to help him sell books, and I will be the first to buy them.
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